Hesder heads urge Har Bracha order reversal

Hesder heads urge Har Br

Hesder yeshiva heads met Sunday and called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak to reverse his decision to expel the Har Bracha Yeshiva from the hesder arrangement with the IDF. In a statement released following a meeting of 50 rabbis at the Or Etzion Yeshiva in Merkaz Shapira, the union condemned political demonstrations in the IDF and demanded that the government refrain from sending soldiers on civilian missions like the evacuation of settlements. Defense Minister Ehud Barak's office refused to comment on whether he would consider reversing his earlier decision to expel Har Bracha following the union's decisions. The union also agreed to continue encouraging its students to enlist in the army and praised the performance of the government and the IDF, despite the recent removal of Har Bracha from the hesder framework after it was publicized that the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, voiced support for insubordination. The publication of Melamed's opinion in his book "Revivim" and in his weekly columns bearing the same name in the pro-settlement weekly B'Sheva coincided with three different incidents in which soldiers of the Kfir Brigade, which serves in Judea and Samaria, waved flags declaring they would not participate in the evacuation of Jewish settlements. "There are still disagreements among the yeshiva heads whether or not an order to evacuate a settlement is against Jewish law," said the Union of Hesder Yeshivot spokesman Rabbi David Stav. "Therefore the union doesn't have a stance on that issue." Melamed participated in the meeting on Sunday and the joint statement was made with his approval. The outspoken head of the yeshiva, located near Nablus, had already announced he would sign off on a statement opposing political demonstrations in the IDF. "We will make every effort on all political levels, and possibly through public and legal means, to convince the defense minister to change his decision," said Rabbi Stav following the meeting, attended by over 50 yeshiva heads. Stav told reporters that everyone agreed to the decisions announced at the end of the meeting, however a source inside the meeting told The Jerusalem Post that the arguments were heated at times. They also announced that Melamed would renew discussions with the government regarding his yeshiva's status. Rabbi Haim Druckman, who heads the union, said that it was the first time in the 50 years of the hesder program that the government revoked a yeshiva's hesder status. "This was a drastic decision that splits the IDF and the people," said Druckman in a brief statement to the media before the start of the meeting. The statement was given as part of a general message reiterated by Druckman both before and after the meeting, expressing the desire to return to the status quo among all the yeshivas and to continue to give their students motivation to enlist in the army. The meeting lasted over four hours, and the decisions were labeled as the true stance of hesder yeshivot. Druckman said he hoped that the Defense Ministry will cooperate with the announcement.